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Lawmaker pulls tort reform legislation during debate

By Michael McNutt Modified: April 25, 2008 at 1:12 am •  Published: April 25, 2008
156 is dead, but the bill's language could be inserted into a bill that is being considered by a conference committee.

"I don't see that happening,” Sullivan said.

Earlier this month, Sullivan at the last minute inserted his tort reform language into SB 156. The 133-page measure was placed into SB 156, a bill that dealt with small hospitals.

How do bills compare?
Similarities in SB 156 and last year's measure include capping noneconomic damages, which generally are for pain and suffering, at $300,000. It also would limit a jury to award punitive damages only if it found intentional or gross negligence by clear and convincing evidence.

Henry in vetoing last year's measure said he concluded several provisions of the bill were unconstitutional, and it unduly restricted Oklahomans' ability to seek justice. He also thought it did not do enough to curb frivolous lawsuits.

Sullivan said his amendment to let voters decide whether to lower contingency fees wasn't a stunt.

"One of the things that we may have to do in order to get tort reform passed in this state is to take individual sections and submit those to a vote of the people,” he said.

However, to let voters decide on the entire contents of SB 156 probably would take 25 to 30 different ballots, he said, because each section would require a separate ballot.